Archive for Culture

Develop Intelligent Teams for Optimal Performance in an Ever-Changing Landscape

An intelligent team—sounds good, huh? But what is it and how do you get it? These are the questions I am preparing to answer on Wednesday when I lead a workshop at Southern Oregon University for members of a high-tech company, timber products company and municipality. And while these seem like disparate organizations, the concepts and steps needed to create intelligent teams are the same for all.

Let’s start with a description. Anchored in constructive collaboration, intelligent teams optimize functioning for enhanced performance, greater productivity and intense creativity. They are critical to successfully navigate the changes we face daily in today’s organizations.

An intelligent team is deeply fluent in the competencies from emotional and social intelligence—the ability to interpret and manage your own emotions to the benefit of the situation and to read and respond with empathy to the feelings of others. Add to this an understanding of social situations and a big-picture perspective. In other words, it’s moving from a frame of “I” to “you” and then “we.”

An intelligent team takes this a step further and employs Relationship Systems Intelligence—the capacity to move beyond personal concerns to a powerful, generative group identity with resilience and resources to address challenges as our world transforms. Sound amazing? Well, it is!

My knowledge of this topic comes directly from hands-on training I received over the last four years at CRR Global’s Organizational Relationship Systems Coaching workshops and from reading CRR founder Marita Fridjhon’s 2016 book, Creating Intelligent Teams. Marita coauthored the book with Anne Rød. My thanks to Marita for permission to quote/paraphrase liberally.

In this blog, I will share the five principles of Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI) and give you a few things to consider while contemplating your organization’s intelligence. Future blog posts will delve deeper into this subject, so stay tuned!

Five Principles of Intelligent Teams

  1. Each relationship system (team) has its own unique entity.
  2. Every member of a relationship system is a Voice of the System.
  3. The team has the answers.
  4. Roles belong to the team, not the individuals.
  5. Change is constant.

What Does This Mean?

  1. Each relationship system has its own unique entity. Any time there are two or more people, they create a “system” or “team entity.” This thing is bigger than the sum of its parts. Intelligent teams are aware of the system and together act as a system—as a “we” vs. a “you” or “me.”
  2. Every member of a relationship system is a Voice of the System. (Everyone is right—partially!) A strong system is one where all members’ voices are heard, which only happens with trust and willingness to share without repercussions. Together, they can add enough information to the system to create an intelligent entity.
  3. The team has the answers. This is one of my favorites! We hold true that relationship systems are naturally intelligent, generative and creative. Kind of like the old 1+1=3 equation and underscored by mutual accountability and responsibility to speak up. Disagreement is good—it’s simply what can happen as more information (voices) is added to the system as it works toward intelligent outcomes.
  4. Roles belong to the team. Relationship systems rely on roles for their organization and execution of functions. For example, there are functional roles (boss, customer service, IT) and emotional roles (peacekeeper, visionary, truth-teller). These roles belong to the system, not the individuals who inhabit the system. If a person leaves the system, the system regenerates and fills the roles as necessary.
  5. Change is constant. Relationship systems are in a constant state of emergence, always in the process of expressing their potential. By noticing signals, team members can explore hidden opportunities and help the entity remain open to new ideas and inspirations that would not be accessible to an individual.

In my next post, I’ll explore the key competencies of an intelligent team along with pointers on how to develop those key competencies. In the meantime, take a look at your own team/organization and get a sense as to where you are now.

Here are a few things to consider (straight from the book):

  1. How would you describe the leadership in your team and organization?
  2. Who are your colleagues? How many are Millennials? Other? How are you bridging the generation gap and working together optimally?
GENERATIONS KEY
  • Gen Z, iGen or Centennials: Born 1996 and later. (<21)
  • Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995. (22–40)
  • Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976. (41–52)
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964. (53–71)
  • Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before. (>72)
  1. How well do you know your colleagues’ background, talents, special skills? How often do you use their specialized knowledge?
  2. How often and in what situations do you and your colleagues work as a team system rather than independent individuals?
  3. How high do you think the level of RSI in your team is?

Questions?

Please call or email me. Let’s see what’s possible in developing the intelligence of your team.

Is Radical Candor the Key to Transforming Your Company?

You know that employee who means well but is so ill-suited to her responsibilities that her coworkers have to pick up the slack? Or the knowledgeable guy who looked great on paper before you hired him but who is now disrupting the workplace with his logorrhea?

Let’s face it—sometimes we make mistakes. We get one impression of a candidate during the hiring process and later discover he or she is a poor fit for our organization’s culture. Maybe we inherit a bad apple from a predecessor. Whatever the reason, as managers we occasionally encounter a problem employee whose behavior compromises the effectiveness of the team or even the larger organization.

But you’re a nice person—how do you tell these folks they’re not measuring up to your expectations, or even more awkward, that some personal idiosyncrasy is irritating the rest of the staff?

Perhaps the offense isn’t egregious enough to merit termination, requiring tact given that you and your team will need to continue collaborating with this individual.

So what do you do? Candor, Inc. cofounder and CEO Kim Scott has two words for you: radical candor. Forget the spoonful of sugar—pour that medicine right down their gullet. Be brave enough to give employees candid feedback about their performance.

In Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity—currently the #1 Best Seller in Workplace Culture at Amazon—Scott presents a management philosophy based on two counterbalancing approaches: you need to care personally while simultaneously challenging directly.

Scott coins the term obnoxious aggression for the brutal honesty managers exhibit when they don’t care. Those are the one-in-five-psychopath CEOs we discussed in a previous article. That’s not the kind of candor we mean.

On the flip side, compassionate managers who don’t want to hurt their employee’s feelings are practicing what Scott calls ruinous empathy. That is equally destructive, not only undermining your leadership but compromising the integrity of the workplace by allowing poor workmanship to slide.

What may surprise you—when you do muster the courage to confront an employee about problematic behavior—is that withholding honest assessment of a person’s abilities and performance actually harms the employee, too. He may find himself continually fired from job after job without ever understanding why and being given the opportunity to correct his behavior.

While Scott’s advice may be old hat to veteran leaders, less-seasoned managers can benefit from her general rules of thumb: practice humility, offer immediate feedback and deliver criticism in private.

The last thing you want to do is shame an employee. That will only serve to trigger her defense mechanisms, and she won’t be able to absorb your instruction.

Instead, take more of a mentorship approach. Maybe you’ve made similar missteps in your past—share an example of where you went awry and how you appreciated when someone took you to task for your shortcomings. Let the employee know you’re on her side and you want to come up with a solution together, whether it involves reconfiguring the job description to focus on strengths and offset weaknesses or introducing some ground rules to help curb the problematic behavior.

However you choose to approach situations like this, remember to practice emotional intelligence along with radical candor, and you’ll be ahead of most bosses when it comes to giving honest but sensitive feedback.

Meet the Plurals: What’s So Special About Generation Z?

They were born texting, their itty fingers swiping across their cell phone screen while they listened to their iPod on earbuds as Blue’s Clues played on the television, Dad watched cat videos on the laptop and Mom slew Doom demons on the desktop.

It was the mid-nineties to early 2000s, and the iGeneration was born into this quasi-anachronistic mash-up scene. Tech-savvy from toddlerhood, these youngsters grew up wending their way around the Internet, “playing” with friends over social media and communicating via emoticons.

At more than a quarter (25.9%) of the US population and growing, Generation Z has already surpassed the percentage of Millennials (24.5%), who themselves outnumbered Baby Boomers (23.6%) by a million (77 to 76 million) in 2015.

These Post-Millennials are your next wave of employees, entrepreneurs, leaders and customers, and it’s time to meet them.

This generation is known for being resourceful, self-motivated and driven. Three-quarters (76%) aspire to turn their passions into careers, whereas only half of Gen Y had such hopes. Nearly as many (72%) wish to start their own businesses one day.

Growing up in a post-9/11 world and witnessing the Global Financial Crisis, they earned yet another moniker as the Homeland Generation for preferring the safety of home and feeling less secure in the world at large.

Gen Z has been reared by protective parents who emphasized tradition, academics and social-emotional learning (SEL). Perhaps because of living in a more uncertain world fraught with the possibility of terror, these kids are turning out to be more conservative than their Millennial predecessors.

They have no illusions about achieving the American Dream, but they do want to better the world, and 76% are worried about the future of the planet. More than a quarter of 16- to 19-year-olds volunteer, and three-fifths (60%) hope to secure jobs that make a difference in the world. Like Millennials, they seek a sense of purpose in their work.

Other epithets (e.g., Gen Tech, Net Gen and Gen Wii) emphasize the group’s tech fluency. Spending a minimum of three hours a day on the computer for activities unrelated to school, the curious Digital Natives value visual and video forms of communication (Instagram and YouTube over Facebook), bite-sized content (Reddit and Twitter), choice (more options with greater levels of customization) and connection (social media, live-streaming).

According to the 2014 study Generation Z Goes to College, the teens use such terms as “loyal,” “compassionate,” “thoughtful,” “open-minded,” “responsible” and “determined” to describe themselves.

These Gen-X offspring instantly spot inauthenticity and patronizing attempts by marketers to court them. If you do win their respect, however, Gen Zers are known for being brand-loyal, and they will evangelize on your behalf if they believe in your products and services.

The most diverse generation to date, the Plurals embrace multiculturalism. While they are more pessimistic than Millennials, this bleaker attitude may propel them to seek pragmatic solutions to crises such as global warming, economic inequality and terrorism. Greater consciousness of planetary problems could well lead to direct action.

Whatever the future holds, these enterprising and creative self-starters give us cause for hope.

See below for a fun and informative infographic on Generation Z courtesy of Marketo.

Generation Z: Marketing's Next Big Audience Infographic